After receiving an advanced reader's copy of her book The Boleyn Wife, Ms. Purdy was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book, which will be released in January 2010. You can read my review on her book here.
1. Why did you decide to write about Jane Rochford?
I always wondered about her, about what motivated her to do the things that she did. And what it would be like to live with that. Whether the incest charge was made out of genuine belief or pure malice, you don’t just do something like that and there’s an end to it, and you never think of it again. As a novelist, I wanted to explore that. I wanted to follow the twists and turns her mind might have traveled to reach that point, and then afterwards; guilt is a very powerful emotion, it has been known to drive people mad.
2. Was it difficult to find information about Jane while researching for this novel?
Yes it was. I actually wrote this novel about five years ago, around 2004 I think it was that I started it. There has since been a biography of Lady Rochford published; Julia Fox I believe is the author, but it was not published in time for me to use it as a source for the original edition of my novel, though I have since read it.
3. Did you base your portrayal of Jane's personality on any evidence or is this how you envisioned the real Jane as behaving?
My portrayal of Jane is basically a work of fiction. I started with what intrigued me most—the charge of incest she leveled against her husband and his sister—and I basically worked backwards and forwards from there, weaving it into the well known stories of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard as I went.
4. Do you believe she really loved George?
I honestly can’t answer that, so little is actually known, and it was an era of arranged marriages, but in a novel I think it works better to suppose she did.
5. The relationship between Jane and Cromwell was an interesting twist. Was there any evidence to suggest this possibly happened?
None at all, that was entirely my own invention.
6. Do you believe Jane really tried to warn Katherine about her behavior or do you think she was excited to be involved in something again?
I think she was a woman who lived vicariously through others, though I have no historical documented facts to base that on, it’s just my personal belief, and I think she got some sort of thrill out of being in the thick of things—intrigue, danger, and romance, but when it all went sour and the shadow of the axe loomed she tried to save herself. And in the pages of my novel one must remember that Jane is a rather unstable character, an unreliable narrator, and it is up to the reader to decide what to believe.
7. What are your feelings on Jane now that you have researched her and written about her life?
I still find her an intriguing personality. Part of me would like to blow the mists away and know the lost truths of history, but another part of me thinks that if we took Jane’s mystery away we would be robbing her of the mystique that has kept her name alive through the centuries; the reason we are still talking, wondering, and reading about her now is that we don’t know the answers. And it’s always a tad disappointing when the truth behind a mystery is revealed to be rather bland and humdrum.
Brandy Purdy has also published a novel about Piers Galveston, The Confessions of Piers Galveston, the favorite of England's King Edward II.